To Get Better, Be Better. 

by Rob Marchalonis.

Be worthy of the talent you seek.  In business, as in life, if you want to attract better you may have to become better.  If a bright, capable, and talented workforce is what you need, then start by examining how worthy an employer you are to high-performance employees.  When I work with leaders, they quickly realize the value that skill, experience, and talent can bring to their organizations.  Usually, they enjoy some level of talent among their current team.  Often, great potential and capacity exists within their workforce but it needs to be trained, coached, or otherwise “unleashed.”  Occasionally, specialized skills or leadership must be recruited.  Rarely however, do business owners and leaders start by looking within their organization and honestly assessing how attractive they are to the talent they desire.

Talent has options.  Peak performers, both within and external to your organization, are very careful about investing their effort where they can succeed and be rewarded.  That’s why many of the best tech minds head to silicon valley, financial analysts to Wall Street, actors and actresses to Los Angeles, musicians to Nashville, and ambitious entrepreneurs to…Shark Tank!  Sure, not every business needs to compete at a national level but there are many who do, and as the world gets proverbially smaller their numbers are growing.  Competition for experience, skills, and ability is keen and rising, and not just for professional occupations.  In many communities, skilled labor is in greater demand than desk jobs and offers higher compensation.  How can you best position yourself to draw in a high-performance workforce?

Give your organization a makeover.  Evaluate yourself and use these five opportunities to become more attractive to the best employees and recruits:

  • Create a compelling culture
  • Establish energizing environments
  • Offer outstanding opportunity
  • Care and communicate
  • Incorporate Incentives

Culture.  From my perspective, an organization’s culture is defined mostly by its leadership and strategy. Combine the character, beliefs, and behaviors of your leadership with your core operating and competitive strategies and these will be the foundation of your culture.  How the owners and senior leadership relate to employees, promote trust, and provide support establishes one half of the culture equation.  How the enterprise chooses to “go to market” with products and services determines the other half of its culture.  As you might expect, a company that provides high quality and service will look quite different from one that competes with the lowest price and limited service.  It’s likely that its culture will look much different as well.

Environment.   Because many of your employees spend a majority of their waking hours at work, why not make the workplace as compelling as possible?  The best restaurants, hotels, and shopping venues realize the power of inviting environments.  That’s why they invest heavily to create spaces that are welcoming and exciting.  Think of the locker rooms of your favorite pro or college sports teams.  You can imagine how each one oozes from floor to ceiling with the team’s colors and imagery to reinforce the team’s spirit and passion.  Photographs, trophies, banners, and other features are put on display to highlight team accomplishment and history.  You may not be the Chicago Cubs, but how could you benefit by turning even a portion of your facilities, like your conference room or cafeteria, into the equivalent of your team “locker room?”

Opportunity.   A clear vision, with purpose and potential for growth provides gravity to pull in peak performers.  Many of the great leaders in history were drawn toward a compelling “future” and the chance to help others and themselves.  This is how many medical breakthroughs happened, because passionate workers persisted through repeated failure and hardship toward the hope of healing and a cure.  Today, Bill Gates and his Foundation are successfully attracting peak performers and peak wealth to overcome the planet’s most difficult challenges.  You may not have solutions for the entire world, but what opportunities can you offer to those who want to invest their passion and careers in meaningful ways, with a promising company?

Care.  Leaders who genuinely care for and communicate well with their employees are attractive.  When people believe they are respected, appreciated, and being cared for, the outcome is trusting relationships and greater commitment.  Too often, I experience leaders who make easy or popular choices in an attempt to be nice rather than make more difficult and courageous decisions that require them to truly care.  Top athletes aren’t looking for a coach who is easy or nice nearly as much as they want one who can identify and direct the hard work it will take to succeed and win.

Incentives.  Do you reward for performance?  Top contributors have confidence in their ability to get results and achieve goals.  Stand apart from your competition by agreeing to share a portion of your results or improvements with your workforce. What better way to care for employees than by sharing your success with them?   Use incentive compensation plans linked to your key business results to recruit, motivate, and reward a high-performing team.

If you want or need talent, consider your attractiveness.  Understand the options available to the workforce you desire.  Look for ways to be a more exciting and compelling as a leader and an organization.  Establish a vision with challenging goals and ambitious outcomes.  Honor and energize your employees by communicating with them regularly, caring about their future, and sharing your success with each of them.  To attract better, start by being better.

Rob Marchalonis is the founder of IncentShare and author of IncentShare: Motivate, Recruit, and Get Results with Incentives, now available at Amazon. Connect with him at